supporting a loved one with a substance use disorder and addiction without enabling behaviors, avoiding enabling behaviors

If you have a loved one struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, you may be unintentionally enabling their addictive behaviors. As a family member or close friend of someone with an addiction, it’s instinctive to want to offer your help and support. However, certain behaviors can enable a loved one and make it more difficult for them to get help. By identifying the common signs of enabling behaviors in addiction, you can better support yourself and an addicted loved one in recovery.

What is Enabling?

Drug and alcohol addiction is a complex and challenging condition that affects the individual with a substance use disorder (SUD) as well as their loved ones. Family and friends may feel inclined to help their loved one struggling with addiction but end up making it worse. When someone’s actions authorize their loved one to continue their self-destructive and addictive behaviors, this is known as “enabling.”

Enabling behaviors in addiction may happen through direct support, such as paying for things, or indirectly by covering up for them. Enabling an addicted loved one can prevent them from taking accountability and facing the full consequences of their decisions. The consequences of drug and alcohol addiction, such as financial instability, lack of support, and feelings of guilt, are often what motivate individuals to seek treatment.

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The 7 Most Common Enabling Behaviors

Understanding what enabling behaviors are is essential for family members and friends to help and support a loved one through addiction. Some of the most common signs you’re enabling a loved one’s addiction include:

1. Providing Financial Support

One of the most common ways people enable addiction is by giving money to their loved one with the addiction. While they believe they’re helping them, whether paying their bills or debts or giving them cash, this can do more harm than good. This enabling behavior enables the person with the addiction to continue their substance abuse without experiencing any financial repercussions.

2. Making Excuses

Making excuses or covering up for their behaviors when under the influence can also protect them from experiencing the consequences of their actions. This might include calling their employer to explain their missing work or making excuses for how they treat others. This form of enabling in addiction prevents the person with the SUD from fully recognizing how their addiction is impacting their life and others.

3. Taking Over Responsibilities

Taking care of an addicted loved one’s responsibilities, such as childcare, household chores, or financial responsibilities, is another expected enabling behavior. Doing this enables them to continue their drug or alcohol abuse without taking accountability and dealing with the duties of daily life. It also leads them to become dependent on you to take care of things for them, further decreasing their motivation to seek help for their substance abuse.

4. Denying or Minimizing the Problem

Denying the severity of their drug or alcohol use disorder or minimizing its impact is another enabling behavior. It can be challenging to admit that a loved one has a drug or alcohol problem, especially when they’re also denying it. Convincing yourself that their addiction is “not that bad” only further prevents them from acknowledging and addressing their need for intervention and rehabilitation.

5. Engaging in Codependent Behaviors

Codependent behaviors are when someone places the needs of the addicted individual above their own. Codependency is especially common amongst close family members such as parents or siblings who play the role of “the giver,” often sacrificing their well-being. Common codependent behaviors in an enabler may include sacrificing their self-care, goals, health, and happiness to care for the individual with the SUD. While it is crucial to support a loved one through addiction, if it’s at the expense of your health and well-being, it is not healthy or beneficial.

how to stop enabling a loved one's addiction, avoiding enabling behaviors in addiction recovery

6. Enabling Through Subtle Encouragement

Joining in on someone’s substance use, whether it’s drinking alcohol or doing drugs, is a form of subtle encouragement. While this may not seem harmful as you don’t have an addiction problem, it is encouraging their use and showing them that you think it is acceptable. Even if you’re not engaging in substance use, this could also include creating a comfortable space for them to use or engaging in behaviors that indirectly support their addiction. Subtle encouragement creates an environment where their alcohol or drug addiction can thrive without consequence.

7. AvoidingConfrontationn

Avoiding confrontation or challenging conversations when it comes to someone’s alcohol or drug problem can be a form of enabling. While it may seem like you’re avoiding conflict and emotional turmoil, it only prevents them from hearing the truth about their addiction problem. Without confronting a loved one about their substance abuse, they may never acknowledge their addiction and need for professional treatment.

How to Stop Enabling an Addicted Loved One

Identifying the seven most common enabling behaviors in addiction can help in addressing them to support a loved one in addiction recovery. With family members and friends enabling behaviors, people with substance use disorders (SUDs) may not experience the extreme repercussions of addiction. Without experiencing the full consequences of one’s actions, seeing the need for change and intervention can be challenging. If you’re noticing enabling behaviors in yourself, here are some strategies to help stop yourself from allowing a loved one with an addiction:

Set Boundaries

Establishing clear and healthy boundaries with an addicted loved one is essential. One essential boundary includes refusing to give them money, even if they say it’s for food or essentials. Even if they aren’t using this to pay for substances, giving them money is enabling their addictive behaviors. Another healthy boundary could be not allowing them to be around you when under the influence. While it may be instinctive to be there for them, maintaining these boundaries can help them take responsibility for their actions.

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Encourage Professional Help

Encouraging a loved one with a substance use disorder (SUD) to seek professional help at an addiction treatment facility is a significant step towards recovery. Drug and alcohol rehabilitation equips addiction specialists, mental health therapists, and recovery support groups to ensure patients have access to the necessary resources for holistic healing.

Practice Self-Care

Family members, friends, and loved ones of people with addiction need to take care of their health and well-being as well. It’s essential to prioritize your emotional and physical well-being, whether it’s through social support, mental health counseling, or support groups. Psychological support and addiction support groups for those with addicted loved ones can help them manage and resolve their stress and emotions.

Be Honest and Supportive

Being upfront and honest when addressing your loved one’s alcohol or drug problem is critical for their recovery. Having an open and honest conversation about their addiction and behaviors can help them recognize its impact and motivate change. While this may not motivate immediate change, over time, maintaining these boundaries while being supportive can. Maintaining a non-judgmental and supportive attitude towards a loved one with an SUD can make them feel safe and more accepting of receiving help. Helping a friend or family member with an addiction can be challenging, but with the proper resources and support, recovery is possible.

If you or a family member or close friend are struggling with addiction, don’t hesitate any longer. Reach out today for drug and alcohol rehab in Stuart, FL.

Coastal Detox is here to get you on the road to recovery.